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Key Capitol Hill Hearings

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Ukraine 42, Russia 20, Us 12, United States 11, Washington 10, Mr. Leahy 9, Crimea 6, Georgia 6, America 6, Europe 5, Vladimir Putin 4, Obama 4, Zachary Goldfarb 4, Vermont 3, Obamacare 3, U.s. 3, Mr. Durbin 3, Hernandez 3, Nato 2, Vince Chhabria 2,
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  CSPAN    Key Capitol Hill Hearings    Speeches from policy makers and  
   coverage from around the country.  

    March 5, 2014
    2:00 - 4:01pm EST  

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class as well. it would probably work. but it is a huge controversy from the taxes. ... thank you for taking my call. independent because most of us americans have caught onto the big blame game. , andeach blame each other basically they are on the same team. they have different ways to go about it. my main problem is the epa. we are giving him close to $8 million, and it'll do nothing for us. they let the fracking industry go unregulated, they let solar management go unregulated. they are spraying our skies, trying to dim the sun to fight global warming. nobody knows about it. 02 global sky watch and you can find out all aut i i o knowre i i want to know where is the epa protecting us from this, his name is david frum nasa and he
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wants to spray and he has been spraying our sunlight dependent. >> host: zachary goldfarb, i know you don't cover epa specifically but the president, climate change is part of the agenda this year. >> guest: that's right and the president is putting money into funding and he proposes billions of dollars for climate research and for related endeavors. epa specifically most o of the time is not necessary for new initiative of just concurrent operations and epa is missing some major controversial regulations, for example, the revelation of coal-fired power plants both new and old. they're trying to put coal-fired power plants, scott gration of new plants that are badly in fund. it's very controversial. many republicans and businessmen hate that idea, but it's the main executive action the president can take to try to combat climate change. >> host: marji in macon, georgia. >> caller: hi.
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iwatches i think you all need to have some different callers. when you have the reporters lined up in the morning because the man dashed and all of them so far have complained about getting screwed by the little people when if you look up strategy and mismanagement, we are the ones were being killed by these psycho maniacs up in washington, and they're getting billions of dollars for killing us. lookup strategy, defense, management people. and people at c-span know it but golly, they take this stuff. they know what's going on that's why they're giving away $5000 to the schools. >> host: what do you think? c-span knows what? >> caller: you know they get paid every time they have to pay a tax on a regulation or compliance. i mean, they get billions of dollars for that. don't tell me you don't know
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that. >> host: members of congress? >> caller: here's the deal for congress. as long as it's in the public, it is not -- what they do is getting it all out in the hearings so the wall street knows about it. >> host: i'm not sure if you make a reference to the studentcam contest that we just showed you, the 2014 winners have been announced. they know they are. we showed a little bit of the top winners and more about the contest. if you want to learn more about studentcam go to our website, c-span.org and go to studentcam.org as well and you can see all the details there about the awards we give out to students for doing these participating in this annual documentary. track to i think call reflects a lot of frustration among americans with the pace and shape of the economic recovery over the past five years.
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it's hard to believe that it's almost five years since the recession ended, which happened in june 2009. since that time the economy has recovered a lot of. the unemployment rate has come down but it's been an even. many of the income gains have gone to the top. i think people fairly to some degree blame washington for not trying to figure out a way to make the recovery and benefit the population in a broader way. a colleague of mine did a great report a few years ago looking at the wealth of people in congress. congress 30 years got a lot more people are just middle class and came to congress. now there's a lot more millionaires in congress and people in congress are part of the 1%. i think the caller is frustrated and shares frustrations with a lot of americans about whether congress is looking out for the average person in a way they hope it should be. >> host: on twitter, you think someone who makes 1 million a year and some who makes 1 billion a year should have the same tops -- top tax rate? >> guest: i don't know, i
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don't know if i've a strong opinion on that. i can get it right now they essentially did the same top tax rate technically, but with a big tax often is much of the income of people who make a lot of money, in the millions or billions, there's not that many people who make in the billions, make their money in income and dividends and so forth and sometimes those are taxed at different rates. that can cause a lot of controversy. another big thing that causes controversies state taxes. people can pass on millions to their heirs without paying taxes, and that causes a situation where you have questions about economic opportunity, and whether everyone is getting a fair tax. >> host: what does the presence budgeted but while the americans and how much they should pay? also the bankers out there. >> guest: the president's budget would raise taxes by
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about a little over one children dollars over the next 10 years. it would primarily do so, the lion's share would come from new taxes on wealthy people. a few examples, so the president would limit to 20% all deductions in the tax code. that would make deductions like home mortgage interest deduction, local property tax deduction, much less prosperous for wealthy people to use. that would raise about $650 billion over the next 10 years. there's also a limit to carried interest which i mentioned earlier, which is a loophole basically that hedge fund private equity managers can use to avoid paying high income tax rates. there's a variety of other tax proposals for the benefit wealthy specifically, and that's kind of the way the president pay for his domestic initiative while also strengthening the deficit. >> host: dan, republican caller. >> caller: i was just listening earlier to a caller
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talking about the epa, and they talked about bill companies getting all these breaks. based on what i've read and found out on the internet is a pay $60 million a day in places, in taxes. and how you going to pay that if you shut down the oil companies and the guy that's supplying the energy for the united states? >> host: where did you read they pay for leasing of the land and taxes? >> caller: that's just on the internet. >> host: zachary goldfarb, the oil companies and gas company to pay taxes and they do have to pay the federal government to lease these lands. >> guest: that's right. the reason the government thinks is there is its multiple. first, the government belief these are public lands in many cases and some some of the benefits of that oil and gas should spread the people in
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those committees and around the country and not just into the pockets of the company. secondly, there is enforcement, environmental regulations in terms of government oversight when you do natural resource billing and exploration in the united states to protect in private, natural habitats and so forth. that needs to be paid for as well. i think the funds and licensing fees go to that support. >> host: freelancer on twitter, how much debt did bush leave? i read 11.5 trillion spent in eight years and the gop act like they have nothing to do with the debt. >> guest: can't recall exact how much debt was there when president obama came into the white house, but there's no question that under president george w. bush the deficit and debt grew significantly, primarily because of the wars in iraq and afghanistan which were not paid for. the expansion of the medicare part d entitlement which was not paid for. and the significant bush tax cuts but also of course were not paid for.
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and so all those combined dramatically widened the debt over president bush's eight years. the recession that started in the last year of his presidency in december 2007 basically was the nail in the coffin and it wiped out government finances to a large degree. there's no question that george w. bush's presidency was not good for federal finances overall. >> host: we're talking this morning on "washington journal" about the president's 2015 budget blueprint with zachary goldfarb of the "washington post." going outside washington to get your take on what the president is proposing to congress. dan in tulsa, oklahoma, republican caller. go ahead, dan. >> caller: most of the people who make a lot of money, we worked seven days a week. he also works 10, 12, 14 hours a day. he makes a lot of money but when i was working in the oil, in the refineries and stuff through the unions, a lot of guys would get
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paid double time of holidays and weekends and overtime, lifetime and a half. then it would show up for monday and tuesday. it would be about 30 or 40%. you can tax the rich if you want to, but if you look at a history lesson, the only thing that brought down the roman empire was taxing the rich. think about that. >> host: suit in illinois, democratic color. what are your thoughts? tran in the roman empire was a long, long time ago and things have changed quite substantially since the roman empire. we don't live in rome. within the united states. we want the people taxed that are rich. they are not hurting. the wall street says they're not hurting. they have up to their money 10 fold since the so-called breakdown of her finances. get rid of the lunatics that are in washington. i know shovel a lot of republican caller's.
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if your cousin worked seven days a week, i'm sure he is reading his benefits. but don't take it out of the tax money of me who made $14,000 last year, and you want to tax me fiftysomething dollars out of 200 on a week when the rich keep getting richer and richer. america, wakeup. >> host: "the wall street journal" editorial board weighs in about the president's budget saying back to pelosi budget and they say soaring tax revenues will hit 1813% of gdp in fiscal 2015. "the wall street journal" editorial board writes in today's topic or that mr. obama's budget nonetheless says that the deficit will fall to 564 billion in 2015 or 3.1% of gdp. host: zachary goldfarb, what is
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the >> guest: since the caller put up the roman empire, i'm going to actually continue without for a second. it relates to this. i recently did a story for the post website based on some research by a new york comedy city university of new york research and he compared the wealth of top people in ancient rome to america today and found out that if you do an analysis, which i will get into the weeds, people today are still much, much richer than the richest people were in roman history. you can buy much more labor for similar amounts. what that gets to his doctor conscious enormous inequality, enormous wealth. really of historical proportions throughout all time in history. questions raised by the callers, the questions raised by the
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editorial is how she didn't have that wealth? should you do the it up at all to ensure quality share prosperity? tickets to the philosophical question in some ways. you just don't believe that people should be forced to give a part of their wealth, that's your answer. if you believe people should give up some of their wealth in order to provide others with services or benefits or give others a chance, then you're not talking about the principle. you talk about how to divvy it up and it's a question of math, judgment. people like to say 19%. the debt is 25 billion. these numbers, no one knows what these numbers mean they're just kind of numbers we use. it's a question of how much do you believe we should divvy up the nation's bounty and how much should we help each other or try to help each other. >> host: that is less to do with economics and more to do with morality and clinical philosophy? >> guest: i think so because once you decide, you first have to decide what you want your principles to be. in the economics helps you figure out how to do the
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numbers, how to set of programs. economics is a science. you have to first decide what you want to identify something as a disease before you try to come up with a cure. you can differ on what the cure is. just throwing out numbers about wealth or the tax revenue, the numbers are irrelevant unless you decide you want to make a value judgment about the. >> host: "the new york times" editorial about the president's budget, what might've been budget. the president's plan shows how many goals could be won by cutting height and tax breaks, and they say and all the present as four, 651 billion any revenues over a decade, every dollar of which will be resisted by republicans. that's because they failed the test that mr. obama laid out on tuesday. as a country we have to make a decision if we're going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest americans or if were going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every american.
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john, webster city, iowa. democratic color. >> caller: good morning spee we will leave this discussion to return now to live coverage of the u.s. senate. if you missed in the of what was said on "washington journal" you can see it on a website at c-span.org. right now centers wrapping up their weekly party lunches contingent debate on executive and judicial nominations. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2.
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with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each.
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the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, sunday was a perfect chicago afternoon, not in terms of weather, which has not been too kind to us lately, but in terms of my events on the schedule. my first stop was at navy pier for the lithuanian independence day celebration, an event which was important to me personally because my mother was born there. i happened to be on hand for the latest round of independence in
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lithuania when the soviet union was finally dispelled and this country was allowed to stand on its feet. it was a great celebration with regional food you might expect and dancing and music. i left there to go over to a section of chicago known as ukrainian village. i had asked after church on sunday if my friends in the ukrainian-american community would come gather and we would invite a telephone call from kiev from the american ambassador jeffrey pyatt. i expected a nice crowd. i didn't expect an overflow crowd, but that's what i found. the concern of ukrainian americans and many others about the situation in that country is very tense and very personal. many of them have family members there, strong cultural family ties, and they are worried, very worried. and so the ambassador called in and gave a few moments of
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remarks and then answered questions, and then we met later to talk about some of the possibilities as we consider the future of ukraine. i looked through the audience and found many of my polish friends, many of my lithuanian friends, friends from all of the different ethnic groups which had endured some form of soviet or russian aggression in the past. they felt bonded with the people of ukraine and ukrainian americans as we discussed this. i had hoped, mr. president, a few weeks ago that we had turned the corner in ukraine, that the difficult events of the last few months were coming to an end, but that didn't happen. we saw horrific violence in midan square and sadly many innocent people killed. just as ukraine seemed to be emerging from this difficult period with the departure of president -- president yanukovych, the russians moved
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in to crimea. i think that situation has moderated some. i don't know. it changes by the hour. but their decision to have a show of force in crimea is one we cannot ignore. that operation in crimea was so well orchestrated that it had to have been planned by russian president vladimir putin during the 22nd winter olympic games hosted in sochi, russia. can anyone imagine anything so crass or brazen as to lavishly try to present russia to the world as a peaceful and modern olympic nation while secretly planning a military occupation of another neighboring country? the russian taxpayers should get their $51 billion back that they paid to set up the olympics. it was money wasted by vladimir putin to try to create an impression of a russia which sadly does not exist. mr. president, former ukrainian
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president viktor yanukovych freely elected, also squandered an historic opportunity to further modernize ukraine, to overcome corruption and to lift the aspirations of his people. he unnecessarily and cynically divided his nation, and instead of strengthening economic and political ties with europe, reforming his economy and respecting ukraine's historical ties to russia, he set off to become a pawn of moscow. he saw his survival politically teaming up with vladimir putin. as the emerging pictures from yanukovych's opulent palace illustrate, he enriched himself personally. his enablers, while allowing the country's promising yet troubled economy to deteriorate. ultimately, his government led a bloody assault on their own people, using heavily armed snipers to massacre ukrainian people in the streets of kiev. i met with mr. yanukovych and
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many in his government just a year and a half ago. yanukovych said that he truly saw his country's future with greater ties to the west, but under enormous russian pressure, he was able to let go of his own political grudges and terrified of transparency that an association agreement with european union would mean for his corrupt regime, he ultimately put his own political future ahead of the globe of the needs of his own people. we all know the traj -- tragic consequences of such actions. just look at syria and venezuela. the results in ukraine were no different. i understand that the crimean region of ukraine has a long, complicated history. i understand that then-soviet prime minister gave ukraine,
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never imagining the collapse of the soviet union and an independent ukraine to follow. let's be clear about what happened. ukraine wasn't joining nato. ukraine wasn't joining the european union. ukraine wasn't proposing cutting off its economic and political ties with usual. ukraine was simply contemplating signing a long negotiated trade agreement with the european union, and for that rationale alone, vladimir putin decided to militarily invade and occupy ukraine. now, i know mr. putin says he was protecting russian citizens, but there have been no credible examples of threats to any russian citizens in ukraine. in fact, "the new york times" reported this week that russian tourists have been sent to eastern ukraine where they are stirring up anger and resentment against the ukrainian government in kiev. arguing that russia can militarily invade another country any time, to protect russian people is an ominous
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suggestion that raises alarms for independent sovereign nations all along the russian borders and also raises the chapters of history back in the middle of the 20th century, which we need not recount here in detail. one need only look at the two regions of georgia that have been militarily occupied by russia since 2008. russia continues to illegally occupy these areas and has erected fences along administrative lines and permanent military bases in violation of the cease-fire agreement negotiated with the european union. now, i have been there myself and i have seen the deeply troubling permanent bases and boundary fences in georgia. the president of the republic of georgia came to see me the day after the final ceremonies at sochi at the olympic ceremonies, and he said there was a report that morning after the final ceremony that the russians were stringing barbed wire around the
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perimeters of the places they were occupying in georgia. russia even stopped some of the demarcation during the olympics but started, as i have said, again after the games' conclusion. russian actions in ukraine and georgia are a clear violation of international obligations and treaties. for example, russia was a signatory to the 1994 budapest memorandum. that reaffirmed its commitment to ukraine to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of that nation to refrain from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of ukraine, to refrain from economic coercion, to subordinate ukraine to russia's interests and to consult in the event the situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments. remember why the budapest memorandum was entered into by russia, the united states and the united kingdom as well, as well as ukraine. it was entered into because the
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ukrainians were surrendering their nuclear weapons. they had decided to give up their nuclear arsenal as long as they had an assurance that they would be protected and their sovereignty would be respected. russians signed on and then summarily ignored it by basically the act of aggression in crimea in this last week. in 1997, the russian federation and ukraine signed a friendship treaty. it was during that time that russian president boris yeltsin said in kiev we respect and honor the territorial integrity of ukraine. as a participating state in the final act of the conference for security and cooperation in europe in 1975, russia committed to respect the sovereign equal and individuality of other participating states. mr. president, it is clear that in many respects, russia has violated the very agreements it signed. it has shown an act of aggression in a sovereign nation of ukraine. now i will concede the situation
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is complicateed because of the basic agreement between russia and ukraine when it comes to that critical piece of real estate in the black sea, but it still does not warrant the efforts that have been made by putin to destabilize an effort toward peaceful government. mr. putin has argued that the change in government in kiev was just the mob in the street. nothing could be further from the truth. it occurred through its parliament and through its constitution and with the promise of an open and free election on may 25. it's up to us in the west and all countries that believe ukraine deserves our assistance and support to make sure that that election is carefully monitored, it is totally legal and free and the people of ukraine have the last word about their future and their leadership. mr. putin ought to be part of the observation team, at least his representatives. so there is no argument about a free and fair election in ukraine. we also need to help this
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country that's going through some extremely difficult economic times. a recent article i read suggested ukraine needs our assistance way beyond the $1 billion which secretary kerry has talked about in his visit. but in order to achieve that, they're going to have to make some significant and maybe unpopular reforms in their economy, in their gas program and the like. it's tricky. to do that runs the risk of a popular backlash against these reforms but without the reforms, there could be no meaningful aid package. we need to stand with ukraine and ukraine needs to stand for the reforms necessary to strengthen their economy. this week i'm working with senators brown, shaheen, wicker, king, collins and warren warner to condemn the russian action in crimea. there's more to be done. senator menendez talked -- the
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aid and the sanctions that may be necessary. i sincerely hope the sanctions won't be necessary. i hope vladimir putin and the russians understand they cannot show this kind of aggression toward crimea without a cost. but i hope they'll do it soon so that we can see the return of stability to ukraine. ukraine is a critically important country, the second largest country in europe today. it was a major part of the soviet union and its independence i'm sure has rankled mr. putin and his dreams of russian empire. but the people of ukraine should decide their future, not vladimir putin. we need to work with those people in ukraine to give them a chance at self-governance,to to pursues the values we share here in the united states. i hope my colleagues on a bipartisan basis will join us condemning this russian aggression and standing by the people of ukraine. i see another colleague on the floor, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
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senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. a few years ago, in 2010, president obama announced something he called the national export initiative. the goal of the initiative was to double american exports in five years. that's right double american exports in tief years, something certainly i support. it's been more than four years and it's pretty clear we're going to fall way short of the president's goal. during his state of the union the president pledged to open new markets to american goods. the president specifically requested trade promotion authority, the very next day the democrats' majority leader rejected the request. i come to the floor today to discuss how president obama can increase american exports despite the opposition from his own party. the president should focus on energy and the president should take the steps needed to
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increase exports of american natural gas, oil, and coal. energy exports will create good jobs here in america and reduce our nation's trade deficit. american natural gas, our oil and our coal exports will also reap important foreign policy benefits such as helping nations in europe like ukraine free themselves from russian manipulation. that's what it is, mr. president, russian manipulation. last month the magazines "the economist" published an article with the met line," the petro boom of america." ed sait it would be nice if barack obama helped a bit. the article explained the united states may have surpassed russia as the largest oil and natural gas producer. the economist went on to discuss the benefits of liquefied natural gas exports from the united states. it said that natural gas exports
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-- quote -- "could generate tankerloads of cash, tankerloads of cash for america." however, the economist also pointed out that the process for obtaining the permits, the permits needed to export that american natural gas, they say, is -- quote -- "insanely slow." now, this isn't an exaggeration mr. president. over the past three and a half years the department of energy has used its discretion to approve only six applications to export natural gas. meanwhile the department of energy is sitting on 24 other applications. 14 of those have been pending more than a year and two of them have been pending more than two years. to put this in context the united states has approved only two-thirds of the amount of liquefied natural gas exports that canada has. last year i introduced a piece of legislation, s. 192, the expedited l.n.g. for mearn
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allies act. a bipartisan bill, supporters on both sides of the aisle, cospores -- cosponsors on both sides of the aisle. this would require the department of energy to approve applications to members of nato, to japan and any other country where gas exports would promote u.s. national security interests. well, think about the country of ukraine. as congress considers this legislation president obama should direct his energy department to expedite the existing permitting process. he should set firm deadlines for the department in acting on pending knowledge applications -- applications. these exports will create jobs all across this country from natural gas fields in wyoming, steel mills in the midwest, ports along our coasts. liquefied natural gas exports will also help reduce our nation's trade deficit, which stood at nearly $39 billion in december. finally, natural gas exports
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will help our allies in europe. ukraine imports about 60% of its natural gas from russia. so what's russia's position on this? we know vladimir putin, russia had cut off natural gas supplies to ukraine twice before, 2006 and in 2009. earlier this week "the wall street journal" reported that russia's state-owned energy giant, jasprom is threatening to raise gas prices in in the ukraine. american natural gas exports could help ukraine and other european countries reducing dependence on russia. president obama can increase exports by lifting the ban on exporting crude oil. the international energy agency estimates the united states will overtake saudi arabia saudi arabia as the largest producer of crude oil by 2020. this is a remarkable development, and it's happened because of hydraulic fracturing.
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it's estimated that unconventional oil and gas production will create up to 1.7 million new jobs in this country by 2020. but in january, the international energy agency warned the ban on crude oil exports, the ban that exists on those exports, could impede american crude oil production. so if the president doesn't lift the export ban, he's going to put american oil production and thousands of jobs at risk. he will also pass up on an incredible opportunity, an opportunity to reshape the global oil market. for generations americans have been subject to the whims of the global oil market. americans pay more at the pump when oil production goes off line wherever it's located. american crude oil exports would boost the world's oil 134r50eu and help stabilize prices for american consumers. american exports would undermine
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the influence of oil-rich countries that don't like us very much. for years the united states has asked japan to reduce imports of iranian oil. these are two of the largest in iment ports, japan and india. in 2012 japan imported 4 of its oil from iran. india about 8% of its oil from iran. american crude oil exports could cut off a vital supply of funding to the iranian regime. if my colleagues are serious about sanctions in iran they should support american crude oil exports, not oppose them. finally, president obama needs to promote exports of american coal. like natural gas and oil, coal exhorts will create good jobs all across the country. over the last several years the environmental protection agency has taken steps to block american coal exports.
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the e.p.a. has asked the army corps of engineers to expand the review process for new export terminals. it wants the corps to consider the carbon emissions produced by exports after they leave the united states. the e.p.a. wants to block exhorts because of the carbon emissions that the exports would produce when they are used after they leave the united states. well, the national association of manufacturers says that the e.p.a.'s actions would set a very dangerous precedent that could block exports of all types, that includes exports of american automobiles, exports of civilian aircraft, exports of heavy equipment that we manufacture here in the united states. to its credit, the army corps of engineers has said it will not expand the environmental review process for new export terminals. president obama should ensure
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that the corps will complete its work in a timely manner and do so without interference from the e.p.a. or any other agency. president obama is fond of saying that he has a pen and he has a phone. he's boasted about ignoring the will of congress. he seems to take delight in finding legal authority where he has none. president obama should stop using his authority or so-called authority because it's authority he doesn't have and he should start using authority that he does have. he needs to use his authority to promote american exports. president obama needs to lift restrictions on exports of natural gas, on oil and coal so americans can get back to work and our country can regain its stature in the world. i also want to speak briefly about another area where i think the president's administration is really not doing enough. yesterday the white house finally released the president's
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budget. this budget included no evidence of leadership and no sign that the president is ready to make a single responsible decision when it comes to washington's out-of-control debt. the budget increases spending by $791 billion over the next ten years. it's a 63% increase over where we are today. 63%. it adds another $8.3 trillion of debt over the next decade. that's on top of $6.8 trillion in debt the president has already racked up. the president has never submitted a balanced budget in his life and this one is no exception. president obama is now a lame duck president. that becomes more obvious every time he puts out a partisan political agenda like this one. instead of putting out a serious plan for how government should spend taxpayers' money. the president's budget does nothing to reform washington's entitlement spending. is this really the legacy that the president wants to leave for
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america's young people? the white house has called this plan opportunity for all. there's no opportunity in this budget. it's just more debt, more taxes, more accounting gimmicks, tricks so the president doesn't have to make the tough, responsible decisions that one would expect of the president of the united states. when energy exports and on the budget, the president should be taking opportunities to solve some of the real challenges facing our country, not letting them pass him by. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise to offer some remarks on president obama's fiscal clear 2015 budget proposal. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise to offer some remarks on president obama's fiscal year
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2015 budget proposal, some of which was released yesterday. as we all know, the release of the president's budget is an annual event here in washington. it sets in motion a chain of processes and events that drive much of what we do right here in congress. unfortunately, with president obama's budgets in particular, this annual chain of events, where the -- you know, for the most part, become an empty, almost meaningless existence and exercise. the first problem with this year's budget is that we received it just yesterday, a full month past the statutory deadline. and what budget information we did receive yesterday is certainly incomplete. for example, when you look at the appendix of the budget, there's often reference to a section called -- quote -- "analytical perspectives." but those perspectives are nowhere to be found.
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i assume that the rest of the budget information is forthcoming. still, we can only wonder why it is being released a few pieces at a time. of course, the problems with this budget go well beyond the delays and the sporadic release of information. put simply, no one in their right mind would say that the substance of this budget was worth the wait. despite the fact that they took an extra month to put this budget together, the most striking thing about it is how little there is in the way of new ideas and proposals. indeed, when you look for the substance of the budget, you will see that the administration appears to be short on new ideas. president obama's new budget consists largely of proposals from his past budgets, which is surprising given that none of them have received a single affirmative vote in congress. let me repeat that. nonof hinone of his past budgete received a single affirmative
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vote in congress. these proposals center on three familiar scenes -- or themes. all of which we've seen in past budgets. and in virtually every policy proposal from this president. first, we see the administration's continued insistence that we can tax-and-spend our way into prosperity and that growing the federal government is the same as growing our economy. second, there is the effort to further redistribute income and the notion that this will, on its own, somehow lead to economic growth and job creation. and finally, we see another attempt to define -- quote -- "tax reform" as a process of closing whatever the administration deems to be a -- quote -- "loophole" in the tax code and using the resulting revenue not to reduce the deficit or lower tax rates but to fuel even more federal spending.
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using overly optimistic economic assumptions, the administration claims that this budget will reduce our high debt-to-g.d.p. ratio. however, to get there and to help fulfill its tax-and-spend objectives, the budget envisions well over $1 trillion of additional taxes in the face of a persistently sluggish economy. that bears repeating. president obama's latest budget contains more than a trillion dollars in proposed tax hikes. no one should mistake the president's intentions. indeed, this budget is the outline of his domestic policy priorities for the future. and, once again, chief among those priorities is mother massive tax increase which, if the president had his way, would come on top of all the tax increases we've seen already
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under this administration. this, mr. president, is hardly what our struggling economy needs. let's just talk about the economy for a moment. someone certainly should and so i will. if this economy is any indication, president obama certainly is not interested in that conversation. currently, we have an economy in which labor force participation has fallen from around 66% prior to the financial crisis to 63% with no recovery in sight. this is the lowest labor force participation rate we've seen since the carter administration and it is holding back our country's economic growth. the nonpartisan congressional budget office has noted that a decline in the growth of the labor forth is a principal reason that potential growth in the economy will decline in the
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coming decade. no one seriously disputes that this is a problem except, of course, when such declines can be attributed to obamacare. we all remember last month when the c.b.o. found that, as a result of the generous subsidies and the not-so-generous taxes in obamacare, millions of workers would either reduce their hours or leave the work force entire entirely. virtually every objective observer saw this as a bad thing. yet, in response to those numbers are these numbers: the administration and it's suppor the airwaves to applaud the fact that obamacare would -- quote -- "free" -- unquote -- people from their jobs and allow them to in the words of the white house press secretary -- quote -- "pursue their dreams" -- unquote -- courtesy of their fellow taxpayers. while economists and the administration and liberal pundits might applaud the reduced labor supply arising
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from obamacare, it is to say the least difficult for me to find merit in the resulting reduction in economic growth. of course there's nothing in the president's budget that would address this issue. if anything, the policies contained in this new round of proposals would make all of this worse. returning to the latest call for well over $1 trillion of new revenue, the administration clairnlings aclaims, as it has , that these tax hikes are needed to restore fiscal responsibility and reduce the deficit as part of a -- quote, unquote -- "balanced approach." however, we need to look at the facts. if you look at the deficit reduction that has taken place over the last five years, you will see just how unbalanced this approach is. in fiscal year 2009, we achieved a high deficit watermark of $1.4
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trillion. that number fell to a still high $680 billion in fiscal year 2013. of the $736 billion of deficit reduction over that five-year span, $670 billion came from increased revenue or taxes and only $66 billion came from reduced outlays. so in terms of budget realizations, rather than promises for the future, less than 9% of the deficit reduction between 2009 and 2013 came from reductions in spending. the vast majority came from increased revenue. yet the mantra from the administration continues: more revenue and higher taxes along with ever-more spending. one can only wonder where job creation falls into the mix, if it does at all. since president obama came into office, we've heard a lot of talk about his laser-like focus on job creation.
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however, the record of this administration suggests that this focus is more on growing government than on growing our economy. we've seen the failed stimulus, obamacare, and initiatives like dodd-frank, all of which have expanded the size and scope of the federal government without laying any foundation for economic growth. and sadly, mr. president, the budget offered this week does not present a vision for such growth in the future. this budget is, instead, a political document. it's purpose is to galvanize support from the left-leaning base in an election year. nothing more, nothing less. this is disappointing, to say the least, particularly when you look at the challenges our nation is currently undergoing and facing. one such challenge is our nation's broken tax code. while this budget comes close to
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acknowledging that the tax code is a problem, it misses an opportunity to actually do something about it. tax reform, if it's done correctly, would promote growth and competitiveness and jobs and the economy and provide greater economic simplicity and fair innocence. in the administration's view, tax reform is guided by a desire to obtain more tax revenue to fund yet more expansion of the federal government. along with an insistence on unilaterally picking winners and losers. the "tax reform" outlined in the president's budget utilized a corporate-only aproavment in other words, it would amend the business tax system and leave the individual tax code largely as it is. that approach is different from the ideas outlined by the two chairmen of the wroo tax-writing
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committees, both who have proposed detailed comprehensive tax reform plans. while i haven't endorsed either chairman camp's or chairman wyden's plan, they both recognize that the noncorporate business sector, which makes up over half of all u.s. business businesses, is also in need of tax reform. now, this sets them apart from president obama and the proposals in his latest budget. and of course let's not forget hardworking individual americans, far too many of whom who need assistance in filling out their tax returns. these people would be left behind under the president's proposal. the president's budget looks to raise tax revenue largely to increase more spending on what it calls -- quote -- "investmentvestmentsvestments" n infrastructure. that sounds wonderful. however, what is taken to be infrastructure in the minds of the federal bureaucrats, who the
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president would empower to spend hard-earned taxpayer money, is sure to be guided more by politics than by economic efficiency. in the so-called infrastructure bank or infrastructure finance authority, or whatever is the label of the day that the president has continually called for, would surely become the next fannie and freddie, putting innocent taxpayers on the hook for any losses resulting from the large federal contractors rolling the dice on building projects. like i said, mr. president, our nation and our economy face a number of challenges. ongoing sluggishness threatens to become a permanent fixture. indeed, as i referred to earlier, the nonpartisan congressional budget office has already ratcheted down its estimate of the economy's long-run growth path, partly
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because of negative effects from the ever-evolving health care law that democrats unilaterally enacted and that the president seems intent on unilaterally implementing. mr. president, i don't think that any member of this body would argue that the status quo in our economy is acceptable. we have a lot of work to do when it comes to creating jobs, economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity in this country. unfortunately, the president's recent budget does not, in my view, add to the intelligent discussion. rather, it returns to already-rejected ideas and appears to be aimed at politics more than the need for proven private-sector jobs. at this critical time in our nation's history, the american people are demanding leadership. sadly, they aren't getting it with president obama's latest budget. and i think that's a catastrophe. we need to change it right here
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in the congress. of course, the senate seems to be slow in wanting to make any changes for the better. in fact, we hardly ever really debate legislation anymore. and, by the way, we'll probably be voting on eight different votes this evening on various judges, all of whom would have been passed by unanimous consent in december had it not been for the majority breaking the rules to change the rules. it's pathetiraq, really. it's pathetic what this body hasn't done. and it's time for us to bring it to account. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate will resume executive session to consider the hernandez nomination and the time until 4:00 p.m. will be equally divided between the chair and ranking member of the judiciary committee.
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the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: thank you, mr. president. to use part of my time, we're finally going to vote to end the filibusters of four judicial nominees to federal district courts in arkansas, puerto rico, tennessee, and california. now, each of these nominees, none of whom are controversial, timothy brooks to fill a vacancy in the western district of arkansas, and pedro delgado hernandez in puerto rico, pamela reeves to fill an a vacancy in the eastern district of tennessee and vince chhabria for the northern district of california, were voted out of the judiciary committee with bipartisan support from both republicans and democrats. incidentally, all of them have the highest rating by the a.b.a.
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standing committee on the federal judiciary, the well qualified rating. it's rare that have you four nominees all with that high rating. i mention this because nominees who normally would have just gone through in a matter of weeks have been held up and held up and held up and held up for no good reason. pamela reeves was originally nominated last may, may of last year. almost a year ago. timothy brooks and pedro delgado hernandez were originally nominated last june. vince chhabria was nominated last july. when everybody knows they all could have been confirmed last year. they all had strong republican and democratic support in the
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senate judiciary committee. but instead, republicans blocked their confirmation all year long until they had to be returned to the president at the end of the year, and then they had to be renominated and reprocessed -- people have already gone through the whole procedure, had to go through it all over again. and then senate republicans again after they had been voted out with strong support from the judiciary committee, senate republicans again forced us to file cloture to the -- to end the filibusters of these nominations. it's going to take the senate eight, nine, and ten months to bring these nominees up for a vote. that's shameful. you know, what it does to the nominee is outrageous, these are people that -- with
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distinguished careers and all of a sudden they have to put it on hold. they've been nominated to be a judge, everything in their life is put on hold, most of them take a big cut in pay to take the job to begin with, and then they sit there month after month after month having everybody -- everybody's told them, well, you have -- there's no controversy to your nomination, when it comes to a vote you will be confirmed easily. and at some point they have to say when is this "when"? it wasn't last year when it should have been and now we're going to this year when it comes up. i've heard some republican senators say that the filibuster is dead now the rules is changed. that's simply wrong. the senate republicans are just filibustering nominees for the sake of filibustering them under different rules.
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they refuse to consent to the vote and the dozens of pending noncontroversial judicial nominees, that means they sit here on the floor for months and months and months before we have to overcome unnecessary procedural hurdles. precious time, resources that could be done in voting and debating on things actually critically important to this country, everything from rebuilding the decaying bridges and roads of this nation to health care for the elderly to health research, to all the things we need. instead, we spend time on pet afogry -- pet fogry and i would -- pettifoggery and balderdash from the other side holding these people up. these are the same people who
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shut down the federal government last year, something that cost the taxpayers of this country tens of billions of dollars, caused private industry himself tens of billions of dollars more, disrupted medical research on through, they closed down the federal government, the executive branch. in a way, they caught so much grief for that i suppose they don't want to have a complete shutdown of the federal judiciary so they do it by sort of water torture, drip by drip by drip, they're doing the same thing to the federal judiciary they did to the federal government, trying to close it down. it may be the case that republicans can't stop a noncontroversial judicial nominee from eventually receiving an up-or-down vote but they've done a pretty darn good job of it by delaying fine
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judicial nominees from filling long-standing vacancies. it's kind of needless --this kind of needless delay only hurts the american people, it is hurting the federal judiciary. it is one of the reasons why so many in this country are angry at what happens here when they see one thing after another delayed and slowed up, so i hope we can overcome the filibusters of the qualified judicial nominees before us today. and i hope the republicans, senate republicans will not continue to try to shut down the federal judiciary. i hope they learned how much the american people were angry at them for shutting down the federal government last year which cost the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
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sometime reality has to koch up with the rhetoric. i heard speeches people want to stand up for law enforcement, want to stand up for law enforcement. i would remind everybody that one of the things we've actually done in this body and the other body to help law enforcement was the bulletproof vest program. this is something started, a bipartisan program, started by former senator from colorado, republican ben nighthorse campbell, and myself, to provide bulletproof vests to police departments that couldn't afford them. we've had some of the most gripping testimony before the senate judiciary committee, the distinguished presiding officer may recall one police officer from a northern state who came to testify before us, who told us how much he loved being a police officer.
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he said the only thing he loves more than being a police officer are his parents, his wife, and his children. and he said if it wasn't for this -- and he reached under the table and pulled up this bulletproof vest and could you see two slugs, bullets, stuck in it. he said if i hadn't been wearing these, i never would have seen my parents or my wife or my children, all of whom were sitting behind him, in there. he said so please keep this program going. he said they got to visit me in the hospital where i had a couple cracked ribs but they would have visited me in the morgue if i had been wearing this. and, you know, mr. president, i mention that story only because every single democrat has agreed to the reauthorization of the bulletproof vest bill. we haven't had a single republican step forward to say we'll stand up to protect the men and women of this country who protect us.
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having served eight years in law enforcement i find that shameful. and i say so stop trying to shut down the federal judiciary. but also stand up for the protection of the men and women in police departments throughout this country. take this bill that's always been bipartisan -- a bipartisan bill from the time senator cranchl and -- crambl and i first start -- campbell first started decades ago, go back so you'll have a police officer talking about seeing his parents and seeing his wife and children when he's had to face gunfire in the line of duty. don't let us hear from spouses or parents or children about why didn't you protect my husband or my wife, my son or my daughter when you could have. why didn't you play -- why did you play silly games, not one
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single republican would step forward and say let's pass this bulletproof vest bill. let's stand up for the men and women in this country. mr. president, what is the present parliamentry situation? the presiding officer: the senate is currently considering the hernandez nomination. mr. leahy: is there a time for a vote? the presiding officer: currently there is three minutes of debate time remaining. mr. leahy: mr. president, has the -- have the yeas and nays been requested on the vote? the presiding officer: they have not been. mr. leahy: i request the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays have been ordered.
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mr. leahy: mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum and ask consent the time be equally divided. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask consent did call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i ask consent all time be yielded back. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, all postcloture time is yielded back and the question occurs on the hernandez nomination. the yeas and nays were
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previously ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote: